Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Spark Sounds

Is the music that was used in the famous Walt Disney Home Video that appeared on several videotapes between 1986 and 2001 part of something else?

Of course, all of us Disney video collectors are familiar with the 1986 Walt Disney Home Video logo... In fact, I think half of the world population that was born before 2000 is familiar with it. Anyways, long story short, I have a particular theory about the piece of music that was used in this long-running logo...

A simple low-key synthesized tune that oddly doesn't sound like anything from a past Disney film, nothing like 'When You Wish Upon a Star' or anything of the sort, this jingle is said to be a "piece of music" that was given to a special effects veteran named Hal Miles, who worked on this very logo - others have said that the logo was freelancer work, including the subsequent 1988 Walt Disney Classics logo that opens the same way. For whatever reason, it was a collaborative project. A brand new-fangled logo to open up Disney videotapes, which were beginning to sell a lot better than before by 1986.

Gone was the outdated and strident previous logo (dubbed "Neon Mickey" by us collectors/Disney videoholics), in came this clean-looking and sounding logo that was a truly proper introduction for Disney videotapes. After all, the box art of 85% of Disney's video releases had Mickey Mouse in the same attire and pose next to a red "Walt Disney Home Video" logo. If not the box art, then the labels would certainly bear that logo.

So now... That music...

A while back, I had discovered that the music used in Disney's very common Feature Presentation title cards (the late 1991 one that everyone knows immediately comes to mind) was actually not something that Disney had created.

Now the music in that logo was a piece that was found, as I doubt that it was composed for a Disney production. This was found at the Bruton Music Library, all of these pieces in the video are composed by Steve Gray - the track used for the Feature Presentation title card is the first few seconds of 'Great Ovation'. (It starts at 7:08 in the video.)

That clears up a lot, as it shows that the music for that roughly 4-second title card is not a 4-second composition, but a mere piece of a much larger composition. I'm thinking the same for the Walt Disney Home Video logo's music. Why's that?

Well fans, you're aware of the closing to the 1992 One Hundred and One Dalmatians VHS, right? How that Buena Vista logo - which should be at the beginning of the film - oddly fades in with Mark Elliot's voice announcing the coming attractions? The background music sounds like a remix of the Walt Disney Home Video jingle. That's what we've been calling it for years, but...

Listen carefully to what we all call the "remixed Walt Disney Home Video jingle"... And consider the full "Great Ovation" track...

It's possible that the 14 seconds of music used for the Walt Disney Home Video logo is part of a bigger piece. If anything, the last section of the Walt Disney Home Video logo seems like it's from another part of the "longer" recording. I see this piece of music being split into 3 sections.

#1. The low note at the beginning
#2. The descending beat as "Walt Disney" is being spelt by the spark
#3. The upbeat, drumroll-driven finale when everything is in place and the logo shines

That last section seems to just come in out of nowhere to my ears. The second section doesn't really gradually transition into it, though it doesn't sound off in any way. The editing is clever, but hearing that weird piece from the Dalmatians VHS and listening closer to this logo's music makes me think a bit...

It's also possible that the music for this logo was recorded in more than one take, as they tried multiple jingles with this same synthesizer. Maybe what was used for the title cards on the Dalmatians VHS closing was another take, because it almost sounds like it's long enough to actually fit the logo's running time (14 seconds), or maybe it's just a different piece of music from the composer... Whoever composed it. (Anyone out there know? Anyone? CLG Wiki members... Have you found any traces?)

You know, I think I might be going with the latter of these theories... But the first one is convincing too. Whether it's the former or the latter, the bigger question is...

Why in the world would this piece of music be used for these particular title cards? Better yet, why was it only used once? Yes, I'm inclined to think that it was some video editing error... Or maybe the people who did the editing for these tapes just liked to use things that didn't show up all the time for their own amusement... I mean...

  • The dark red FBI and anti-piracy warning cards used from 1986-1987 reappearing in 1991 on a demo VHS for The Rescuers Down Under?
  • The original 1988 Classics logo (the black/blue gradient "prototype" version) re-appearing in 1991 on later printings of Robin Hood, in 1992 on a demo tape for The Rescuers and other places?
  • The 1989 Classics logo appearing on the 1996 VHS of Pocahontas - roughly 2 years after that diamond logo and line were expired?
  • How about that navy blue Feature Presentation title card that only shows up on the 1992 VHS of The Rescuers?
  • The distorted Classics jingle (a 1992 variation of a 1988 recording, no less) being used for the Walt Disney Company intro on 1999-2000 video releases? (i.e. A Bug's Life, Tarzan)

Yeah, Walt Disney Home Video's various releases are full of things like this. This is only one of them...

1 comment:

  1. Interesting theory, I do like to think such lengthy version of the jingle exists and wonder what it would have actually been. Similar to the promo from the "Walt Disney Studio Film" collection most I've talked to like to think that it was also a part of a larger track.

    Okay this might be off topic but recently I acquired the Mini-Classics release of The Reluctant Dragon and it has the weirdest editing error. Granted this tape was printed in 1987 as the third title in the series and it was originally a stand alone title in 1986, the tape's sound goes in and out almost as if the sound was distorted. As soon as it gets towards the end of the 1986 WDHV logo before the Mini-Classics logo there was some sound muffled, I rewinded the tape three times to hear it and discovered the muffled sound was actually the faint tail end of the Video Dealer Announcement. I've checked this tape and it's a legitimate tape, I assume the editor may have taped over a previous tape. Another incident was that my friend had gave me a copy of the Favorite Stories release of Mickey's Christmas Carol and the tape was printed 11/05/1997 but the tape master is that of a Mini-Classics release without any promo at the end. Regardless of the mix print I still refer it as a Favorite Stories Collection title.